Women in Pro Audio: Rosa Della Sala Women in Pro Audio: Rosa Della Sala...

After you’ve entered a live event venue, the anticipation builds to a crescendo as the lights dim, and you hear the first loud sound of the drum kick. Sending a wave of exhilaration throughout your body and the crowd. The physical rush you feel from hearing that first beat marks the start of an unforgettable live experience. Where every melody creates an emotional experience that transcends the ordinary. But what makes this feeling possible when you hear that incredible sound are the unsung heroes of live events. They’re meticulously balancing and blending each performance element to create a clear, immersive sound experience for the audience. And the women working in live sound play a pivotal role in this experience. Despite their relatively small numbers, their contributions are significant, bringing unique perspectives and innovative solutions to help make these events possible.

Meet Rosa

In an industry that thrives on innovation and passion, Rosa Della Sala stands out as one of those women behind the scenes. With a decade of experience, she has gone from a fledgling audio tech to a seasoned audio-visual designer. Currently lending her expertise to 3P Technologies, she plays a pivotal role in designing integrated multimedia audio-visuals and building automation systems for a diverse clientele, ranging from corporate entities to educational institutions and hospitality venues.

Hailing from the picturesque hinterlands of Venice, Mestre, Rosa has found her base in Padua. Her academic journey began with digital arts at the High School of Musical Specialization in Saluzzo-Cuneo. She details her journey from her initial education and works in recording studios to her broad experience in live events, broadcast, and corporate audio.

“I’ve worked on a wide range of projects, from a microphone operator for Rai Television to a resident sound engineer for corporate radio. My work has taken me across Italy, where I participated in theatre festivals and handled live broadcasts for sports events. More recently, my focus has shifted to audio-video systems integration, including project and design work for new AV systems.”

How It Started

“The role of a sound engineer wasn’t well known in Italy during the early 2000s, so it wasn’t a deliberate career choice,” Rosa notes. “My involvement with musicians and my own musical pursuits led me to this field. It was love at first sight. This path appeared in my life unexpectedly, but it quickly became a source of endless interest and passion. Deepening my technical knowledge continues to provide me with satisfaction and motivation.”

The early years saw her honing her skills at recording studios in Bologna and Padua, setting the stage for a lifetime of learning and exploration with other women in live sound. The Italian term “gavetta” symbolizes the early stages of a career filled with learning by doing, perfectly encapsulating her ascent in the professional audio world.

“I started with a school and an internship oriented more towards studio recording and production.” She recalls the shift to live events as a turning point. “Suddenly, everything became so difficult. I faced denial about women possibly working in that field. I encountered financial instability and the physical demands of the job alongside a competitive and aggressive environment. Elders in the field were reluctant to share crucial information or to support newcomers. Which struck me as odd in such a close-knit industry.”

Challenges for Women in Live Sound

Rosa reflects on gender challenges. “In this industry, the challenge for women often revolves around gaining consideration, credibility, and trust. It’s an issue many of us encounter, where our abilities and contributions are underappreciated simply because of our gender.”

Various cultural and social factors influence the scarcity of women in the pro audio field. “It’s a complex issue tied to cultural and social factors,” Rosa adds. “Lack of educational resources specific to our industry here in Italy, for example, affects not just women but men as well. Spreading information through interviews like this and increasing awareness could help bridge the gap.”

Rosa also comments, “It’s important to underline that being part of associations like Avixa Women’s Council or Women in Live Music (WILM) is vital to sharing common experiences and gaining knowledge. It creates the right network of relationships and support for women live sound that everyone needs to grow in a complex environment such as the pro AV industry.”

She expands on how she handles the various hurdles within the industry. “Dealing with challenges and pushing my limits is something I find stimulating. It’s part of the appeal for me,” she admits. “However, there have been times when I felt overwhelmed and considered leaving. Taking a break during those moments proved invaluable, allowing me to regroup and continue moving forward.”

The Best Parts of the Job

During her ten-year live sound tenure, Rosa had a few standout moments. She recalls, “I loved being part of Britannia Row. I learned a real way of working and what a great team means. Of the Venice Biennale productions, I have very funny memories.”

Feeling nostalgic, she continues, “I preferred my first working period more when I aided and co-recorded classical music live. There’s nothing like that.” Yet, Rosa found a sense of belonging in the unique ambiance of an occupied theatre in Rome known as Angelo Mai. “But the place where I felt at home and where I collaborated on the most beautiful concerts and theatre shows was at Angelo Mai. Even if there wasn’t top-notch equipment, the entire Italian independent scene had performed there,” Rosa shares.

Rosa’s enthusiasm is palpable regarding the tools and events that have shaped her professional growth. “There are too many,” she admits. “But I love trade shows like ISE or PLASA. You can see and try new products, have special demos and training, and talk with other technicians and designers.” She pauses, “But the most beautiful part of my job is being creative and having the opportunity to imagine and design an audio-visual sensory experience for people in real life.”

Rosa’s career is also peppered with moments that range from the absurd to the extraordinary. She recounts with a mix of amusement and disbelief the time she provided tech assistance for a disco on a beach. “We had to drag the system on the sand… funny but not too much.”

Another memorable event highlights the unpredictable nature of live events and the resilience she was required to navigate them. She was setting up for a football match amidst a heavy snowfall. “Freezing, we set up cables and mics on the field, just waiting for the referee to signal the game wouldn’t happen at all.”

Her Advice

Her advice for women entering this challenging field is straightforward and sincere. Rosa says, “I recommend starting to study well what you want to practice in the future and always having fun.” She emphasizes the importance of self-care, fair compensation, and authenticity. “Not to overstress the body with heavy lifting, to always be paid honestly, and always remember to be yourself.”

Regarding essential skills, Rosa believes in the power of having an “overall view,” a skill she observes that is often innately present in women. This ability to see the big picture while managing the details is invaluable in the fast-paced, often unpredictable world of live events and sound engineering.

The Future of Live Events

Rosa has navigated the pro audio industry with a sense of responsibility and a dash of humor. She believes the “eco-sustainability of products and events” should be the industry’s priority, pointing out an area ripe for change and improvement.

When asked what she sees for the industry’s evolution, Rosa thinks deeply, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. She observes, “I think that there has been an acceleration in the technological growth of the event industry since the pandemic.”

Rosa elaborates, “This is because similar AV fields are merging and combining technologies.” Her insight sheds light on a trend where blending disciplines is a step towards a more integrated and innovative future for live events. Through Rosa’s perspective, it becomes clear that the pandemic also served as a catalyst for change. It pushed the boundaries of what is possible in live events and brought a new era of technological integration.

How It’s Going

“It wasn’t straightforward to enter the audio field,” Rosa confesses. My connection to music and the technical side of audio work developed naturally. Finding this path was a fortunate twist of fate that has led me to where I am today. I’m continuously fueling my passion and drive for the industry.”

To connect or keep up with Rosa, add or follow her on LinkedIn.

Read last month’s Women in Pro Audio interview here.